Japan has reasserted its strong support towards the Fiji Government’s efforts in advancing our economy particularly, in the tourism industry, and trade and investment sector. A positive outcome of this cooperation will soon see the resumption of direct flights between Nadi and Narita, from April, 2023.

This will boost tourism earnings, and create employment and also unfold new investment prospects for Fiji. Japan’s support was conveyed Thursday (26/1/2023) afternoon to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka, at an introductory courtesy call from the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Mr. Kawakami Fumihiro.

Prime Minister Rabuka thanked the Government and the people of Japan for their tremendous contributions to Fiji and the Pacific, over the years.

He highlighted that Fiji looks forward to further strengthening relations with Japan in the key areas of socioeconomic development.

Fiji’s ongoing cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and support provided during times of natural disasters and COVID-19, was also acknowledged.

On regional cooperation, Prime Minister Rabuka thanked the Japanese Government for supporting the Pacific region, through the Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM) process and its commitment for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” In his response, Ambassador Fumihiro congratulated Prime Minister Rabuka for the recent elections and he asserted Japan’s commitment to working with the coalition Government.

“From the first PALM graciously attended by the Honourable Prime Minister Rabuka in 1997 until today, Japan has jointly built consensus with the Pacific Leaders through the PALM dialogue on priority areas of assistance that meet the needs of the countries, ” he said.

“We have provided medium to long-term assistance based on the spirit of our agreements with the Pacific Leaders. “With respect to economic recovery, we would like to support the development of tourism, which is the premier industry of the Fijian Economy.

“From this coming April, Fiji Airways will resume direct flights between Nadi and Narita. The number of Japanese visitors to Fiji in 2019, before the pandemic, was around 15,000, compared to just 854 in 2022.”

Ambassador Fumihiro added; “The highest number of Japanese visitor arrivals to date was around 45,000 in 1995, when the Honourable Prime Minister Rabuka was in Office, during his first stint as the Leader of Fiji. There is still room to increase the number of Japanese tourists to Fiji”.

“I expect that the resumption of the direct flights should also be used as an opportunity to encourage Japanese companies to invest in Fiji, in areas of the tourism industry and beyond.”

He said Japan looks forward to formulating concrete support projects through close communication with Prime Minister Rabuka and the new Fiji Government.

“In the past two years, Japan has focused its assistance to Fiji on the response and recovery from COVID-19. As Fiji has already entered the post-pandemic phase, from among the five priority areas, we would like to focus more on climate change and disaster management as well as human resource development, including education and vocational training,” Ambassador Fumihiro said.

He said Japan’s assistance to Fiji is in line with the five priority areas as agreed upon at the PALM9 in 2021. These are namely (1) COVID-19 Response and Recovery; (2) Sustainable Oceans based on the Rule of Law; (3) Climate Change and Disaster Resilience; (4) Strengthening the Foundation for Sustainable and Resilient Economic Development; and (5) People-to-People Exchanges and Human Resource Development.